Monday, July 28, 2014

Red Robin Royalty Members: $5 off $10 purchase August 5 only

If you're a Red Robin Royalty member, heads up!  The chain is opening up it's 500th store next week on August 5 and Red Robins nationally will be celebrating too.  If you're a Red Robin Royalty Member, you can get access to a $5 off $10 (not including alcohol or gift cards) coupon to use on August 5.

Not a member?  Join now.

Gluten Free Chex Oatmeal --- yummo! {review}

I recently found Gluten Free Chex Oatmeal at a local family owned grocery store and was actually rather surprised to find it there.  I'd recently been to a few grocery stores (on vacation and after) and hadn't seen this product there at all. So finding it on the shelf in podunk, Virginia was a bit of a shock. 

I like oatmeal and always wished Quaker would be able to make their oatmeal packets gluten free.  I mean, it's an oat company and their only labeled gluten free item is rice cakes.

You see, I ate Quaker instant oatmeal every day at work, for years!  I would trudge into work and make my oatmeal and eat it while my computer booted up.  Back then, it took a good 5 minutes for the tower to fire up.  I've tried other gluten free oatmeal and hated them.  I won't name names, but let's just say they are well-known in the gluten free circle.  There were some products that I tried that I just ended up throwing away because they were so unpalatable that I didn't want to offer them to a friend whose family eats gluten free too.  Friends don't make friends gag.

Many varieties of Chex are gluten free (except Wheat Chex, of course) and they clearly label their gluten free-ness right on the front of the box.  When I saw Chex had a gluten free oatmeal, I wondered if it would have, you know, pieces of Chex in it?  Silly, I know.  But my husband said that maybe the Chex brand is known for being gluten free and that's what they were trying to convey with this new oatmeal product --- that it was gluten free.  It was enough to get me to stop and look closer at the label, so perhaps there's something to it.

I bought the variety pack, mainly because it was $4 at the store and I figured I would at least be able to try both the Gluten Free Chex Oatmeal Apples and Cinnamon and also the Maple and Brown Sugar, vs. just trying Maple and Brown Sugar, the only other variety that the store carried.


Apples and Cinnamon:  The apples were not the dried fruit I was expecting.  They were juicy bits once rehydrated and I liked the taste a lot.  Not quite like the Quaker I remembered, but still very good.

Maple and Brown Sugar:  This was OK.  I liked it well enough, but it was very sugary.  It was almost too sweet.  Still good for a quick snack or breakfast, though.

The pouch can act like a measuring cup so you know how much water/milk to use.  That's nice for on-the-go or camping trips, though it's for cold measure only.  Don't pour hot liquid into the pouch to measure.

Tip:  I found the oat meal tastes better if you mix the water in hot and don't try to mix it all together and then microwave it.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chocolate prices on the rise: How to save on chocolate candy

Marketwatch reports that chocolate prices will soon be jumping up at a store shelf near you.  Both Hershey (+8%) and Mars (+7%) will be hiking prices to adjust for rising costs.  I have read before that chocolate is recession proof in that most folks aren't put off by price hikes too much and that even in a bad economy, they view chocolate as a "treat" that they can afford to splurge on just a bit.

What can you do to avoid the cocoa crunch?

1.  Keep an eye out for sales and stock up when you see special offers at places like CVS/Rite Aid, who often advertise candy bars at B1G1. By the same token, know where not to buy.  Convenience stores typically do not offer the best deal.  I was once told by someone who worked at a convenience store that none of the products she checked in from a truck had a profit margin of less than 200%.  There's a reason that candy bar costs $1.89 instead of 99 cents!

2.  Be on the look out for candy coupons --- especially around Halloween.  You may be used to a full sized Snickers Bar, but buying the fun size and eating two may actually be cheaper.  Target often has printable coupons, but be sure to keep an eye on too for great deals.

3.  Stock up after holidays on chocolate.  Those fall wrappers on Hershey's Miniatures do not subtract from the flavor at all.  Don't be put off by the wrappers and save money by hitting the clearance right after Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter, etc.

4.  Make your own.  Try making your own Mr. Good Bars by buying chocolate in bulk, melting it down, tossing in some crushed peanuts, and letting them set.   Many craft stores offer coupons, so don't forget to check places like Michael's and AC Moore's for chocolate discs too.  They often have great coupons for 25% off  one item.  Also,  baking molds for candy bar making are available at Amazon for under $10.

5.  Always pay attention to unit price.  Compare price with weight and determine which package actually has the best price per ounce. 

6.  Follow your favorite brands on social media so you will be aware of any promotions, contests, instant win games, special offers, etc.

7.  Have a "scratch and dent" type of store near you?  Did you know that chocolate may discolor (turn white) if it's not kept at its optimum temp?  That white does not affect the taste!  I once scored a ton of Reese's Peanut Butter cups for 10 cents each at that store.  The tops were a little white, but they tasted just the same.  Don't be put off by dates if the discount is deep enough.

This blog post contains an Amazon Affiliate link. 

Generic products: Are you wasting your money on name brand?

This post sort of ties into one yesterday, where I listed the Giant Food 'Buy Theirs, Get Ours Free' promo that's upcoming next week.  In that challenge, if you buy select name brand products, you can get their store brand free to try so that you can compare for yourself.

Smart People Buy Generic Brands appeared over at CNN Money's site and in it, it states that Americans waste $44 million a year by not buying generics.

As a general rule in my house, we do buy generic (store brand) when we can to save money.  However, there are some things we are brand loyal to.  My husband, for instance, insists that DayQuil works the best for him, even though the store brand anywhere is cheaper and has the same active ingredients.  He's the same way with any other cold medicines he takes.  However, other medications, such as ibuprofen, he is not picky on, and I just buy whichever store brand is the best deal when I need to purchase some.

A quick look in my pantry reveals about a 50-50 split.  Great Value cereal, Food Lion cereal, Wegman's gluten free cake mix, etc.  Because I eat gluten free for myself, I do tend to stick with name brands as there aren't that many store brands putting out their own gluten free offerings (kudos to Wegman's for doing so!)  I will buy generic store brand peanut butter for baking use, and save the Jif for the kids sandwiches, because they like it better. 

My advice is to try a store brand when you can because most of the time, the store will back their product with a money back guarantee.  If you don't like it, take it back.  (If you remember the infamous peanut butter recall a few years ago, you'll remember that the name brand recall quickly expanded to store brands because many times the manufacturer makes their own brand and some for stores too.  It may not always be obvious, though.)

In case you're curious, here are a few things I am brand loyal to:

Cat food --- Purina, 9 Lives, or Friskies.  I have seen too many generic petfood recalls and value my pets so much that I do not buy them generic food.

Peanut butter --- The kids love Jif.  Hubby, too.

Cascade Complete --- I have found this works best for my dishwasher.

Palmolive Soft Touch --- This is a special request from my daughter, whose chore it is to do the dishes.  She says the other kinds "make her itch".

Cereal --- Regular Lucky Charms for my house.  The kids will eat some generic cereals (hubby, too), though, if it's a "healthy" option (a/k/a not sugary), then they tend to like the store brand.  If it's a sugary cereal, they prefer name brand.

What are you brand loyal to?

Fazoli's National Lasagna Day (July 29) offer

Italian food lovers:  I want to tell you about Fazoli's National Lasagna Day offer.  On July 29th only, if you dine there and eat their twice-baked lasagna, you'll get a coupon for future use for twice-baked lasagna free, with a drink purchase.  So think of it as a B1G1 offer.  

Their menu lists the price of twice-baked lasagna at $6.99.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pamela's Figgies & Jammies -- Mission Fig review #glutenfree

When I go to grocery stores I don't shop at regularly, I always find myself cruising the gluten free aisle.  As I mentioned before, I live 35 miles away (at least!) from any city that has more than one normal chain grocery store in it.  So when I get the chance, I like to wander and find the items I can't get locally and hopefully find something new to try too.

Today at a Giant, I found Pamela's Figgies & Jammies -- Mission Fig on the shelf in their gluten free aisle.  I was intrigued because I had heard they had a new cookie out, but almost didn't buy them because I have bought Pamela's Cookies before and not liked them.  (Particularly their peanut butter cookies).  It was $3.99 for a package, about normal price for a gluten free cookie product.  I decided to take the plunge because it has been years, literally, since I had a fig cookie.

I opened the package in the car and was pleasantly surprised.  They smelled like the national brand fig cookies and even looked like them too.  I took a bite and was instantly transported back, back, back in time to being a young kid asking Grandma if I could raid her cookie cupboard.  You see, she kept her packaged cookies in an oversized bread box in her kitchen and all of us grandkids knew exactly where she kept them, too!  It tasted just like what I hadn't had in years --- an honest to goodness fig flavored cookie.

So for taste, I give it a 10 out of 10!  No crumbling, like many gluten free cookies.  It had the same consistency and taste as the national brand that isn't gluten free too.  These were so good I might have to hide them from my non-gluten free kiddo and keep them all for myself. 

My only complaint is with the packaging.  You will want to carefully open the packaging with scissors so you can tape it shut to preserve the moistness.  I unsuccessfully attempted to carefully open the package with my hands and the packaging stretched and pulled instead of ripping open.  I am afraid by then, I just wanted the dang cookie and there was a decent tear in the packaging by the time I was done opening it.  I recommend an easier way to open -- perhaps a flap on the top that can be resealed?

I will definitely try the Jammies next, though they only had one of the other flavors in the store.

Disclosure:  I purchased this product on my own, with my own money.  It was not provided to me by the company in any way, shape, or form.  The opinion above is my own.

Giant Food's Buy Theirs, Get Ours Free promo

Rural living leaves me with a few options on grocery stores, which include a mom and pop store, a Walmart 15 miles away, and a Food Lion 5 minutes away.  Not much of a choice there, eh?  So when I get to a larger town, I like to stop in a bigger chains and look around.  I eat gluten free and let's just say that none of my local options gives me a good selection of food offerings.  Since my 9 year old has had archaeology summer camp in Fredericksburg this week, and I had time to kill while he was at camp, I stopped into Giant to see what they had that might strike my fancy.

There was a flyer with the ads pointing out their Buy Theirs, Get Ours free promotion, and specifically advertising Corn Flakes.  What a great way to try store brand products for free!  When I got home, I searched for some info on this promo and came across this post by Coupon Gal.  She lists the products for the next two weeks that you can Buy Theirs, Get Ours free on, so give them a try if you have a Giant nearby (plus, she is  hosting a giveaway).  Snack crackers, cereal, tissues, mouthwash, and more are included in this promo.  Most of the time, my kids never know if something is a store brand, so it's an awesome way to try new things and save some money if you do like the store brand. 

If you're a brand snob, you could consider buying the national brand and taking the Giant product free and donating it to a food pantry.

Disclosure:  I am not affiliated with Giant.  I shared this information because I thought it would be helpful to my readers.  I did not receive any extra entries in the giveaway I mentioned for making this post.  I shared the giveaway info because you never know when you're name will come up and you'll be a winner :)  Good luck to all who do enter Coupon Gal's contest.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Reading reminder: Barnes & Noble Summer Reading program ends 9/2

There's just over a month left in the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program for 2014.  Are your kids looking to return to school soon?  A friend across the state told me her kids go back mid-August!  Mine won't return until after Labor Day.  So whether your children have a new school year looming or a few more weeks of summer fun, don't forget to complete your reading journal and turn it in to Barnes and Noble before the program ends (or you forget in the hustle and bustle of a new school year).

Monday, July 21, 2014

$5 Walmart e-gift card by purchasing $15 Quaker products at Walmart (7/1-9/30) *text or email*

If it's time for you to stock up on school snacks and cereal, consider stopping at Walmart and making your purchases of Quaker products there.  Through September 30, purchase $15 worth of Quaker products on one receipt and either take a pic of your entire Walmart receipt or email a copy to to get your $5 Walmart e-gift card.  This offer can be done five (yes 5!) times per consumer.  For more details, you can check out for more info.  To be eligible for this offer, you must only purchase the Quaker products at a Walmart.

If you opt to do it via texting a copy of your Walmart receipt, you will receive a few texts.  Please be aware of this if you are charged per sent/received text. 

The photo on the info page shows many products with the Quaker logo, plus some that aren't obvious like Captain Crunch, Rice-a-Roni, and Aunt Jemima.  Quaker has a list of products on their website.

Walmart Savings Catcher available in select markets: Save money after purchasing

I have to admit, I love the idea of Walmart Savings Catcher, a new program where you can save money on your Walmart purchases after you've already swiped your card or dug out your wallet to pay.

How Walmart Savings Catcher works:  Sign up for Walmart Savings Catcher and enter your receipts.  You can only enter up to seven (7) receipts per week, so plan accordingly if you're a heavy shopper.  You also must enter it within seven (7) days of purchase or it may come back invalid.  What they do is ad match and give you the difference on items on sale at other stores.  So it's like getting a price match without having to ask for one.

Sounds great, right?  I went through the sign up process only to find in the FAQs that...

Bummer.  I don't live in a test area.    Yeah, that would have been nice to know up front before I went through the whole rigamarole of signing up.  The list of test areas was buried in the Walmart Savings Catcher FAQ.  I assumed it would tell me if it was not available in my area, but it did not.  So unless you live in a test area (listed below), you may want to hang back.  I suppose they could expand (Walmart Savings Catcher is in beta, after all), so it may be worth keeping my eye on for the future.

Test area list for Walmart Savings Catcher (as of 7/21/14, the date of this post):  These lucky ducks live in the test area:  Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; Huntsville, AL; Lexington, KY; Minneapolis, MN; San Diego, CA.  The FAQ does state that they do have plans to expand to more cities "later this summer".

Editing to add:  A Walmart rep reached out to me via email after this post went live to assure me that the program will roll out nationwide and to stay tuned for more specific dates.  Also, they do plan to eventually include produce and general merchandise.  Upon launch, it compared prices on 80,000 items, so there is good potential for unexpected savings for all when it goes nationwide.  Here's a link to their press release from June, if you're interested:  LINK 

Editing to add:  This appears to have been launched nationwide.  On 7/27, another blogger reported that it was open to everyone now, and when I checked the FAQ page, it no longer listed test areas.  Let me know how your savings add up!

Weigh in:  What are your thoughts on this program? 
Please comment below and let me know if you plan to sign up.  

Have a friend in a current test market?  Be sure to share this post with them.

Screengrab from FAQ from Walmart

Slight bummer:  Walmart Savings Catcher is only for eligible items.  Excluded are paper products, tobacco, electronics (basically general merchandise items).  Also excluded are bakery, deli, and weighed items like fruit.  Basically, if you can't eat it, you have no chance of getting money back if it's advertised cheaper elsewhere.  Your online purchases from are also not eligible.  Your brick and mortar receipts are the only ones you can enter for this program.

How you get paid back:  You get back the money you earn from them doing the price comparison shopping after the fact via a Walmart e-gift card.  This you print out to take with you on a shopping trip, or you can use it online. 

Use of this program does not mean you can't ad match.  If you're savvy and want to ensure your savings upfront, go for it!  There is no guarantee that mistakes won't be made and you should not rely on Walmart Savings Catcher to catch every price match after the fact.

Weigh in:  Share in a comment below whether you plan to sign up for the Walmart Savings Catcher.  

Have a friend in a current test market?  Share this post with them so they can sign up and test drive the program to see if they save money by shopping at Walmart.

Disclosure:  This is not a paid post.  I am simply sharing a program I heard about with my readers.